January 24, 2018
In my daily telephone calls, physical meetings, or email correspondence, I hear a lot of complaining – both from staff members who are upset with management and doctors who are disappointed with staff behavior. Most of the time these complaints are the result of unrealistic assumptions or promises made but not honored. On further review, the issues can almost always be attributed to inadequate or poor communication between the doctor and the staff. And the larger the practice, the bigger the problem.
A Seth Godin post from a number of years ago has always resonated with me.” If you want to build a vibrant organization, the simple rule is: the rules apply to people in power before they are applied to those without. People might hear what you say, but they always remember what you do.” So understanding that the buck stops here, and that you as the doctor bear the ultimate responsibility for creating a wonderful workplace, what can you do to change the culture in your practice? Or more simply stated, how can you be a more influential and inspirational leader?
• Show up on time to begin the day. The first lesson of accountability is to lead by example. If you are continuously late, it shows disrespect for your patients and diminishes your credibility.
• Show empathy and generosity to your patient population. Patients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. We certainly want our staff to act in the same manner.
• Resist the urge to micromanage. Delegate to the extreme. Assign specific tasks and hold people responsible for their actions and the results. Allow people to fail and learn from their mistakes. You can’t do it all yourself – it is way too complex and way too much work.
• Avoid favoritism. When you consistently tolerate inferior performance with no repercussions, it makes you look weak and ineffective.
• Communicate your vision. Compliment and coach every day. Your staff needs to know that you appreciate them. Don’t assume that they know. Assumption is the lowest form of human behavior.
• Allow your staff to be more fully vested in the success of the practice. Try to include them in some of the management decisions in the office. Many times the best source of new ideas come from our staffs.
Above all else, you want to try to be a role model to your staff about how to live an exemplary life outside of the dental practice. I wrote a blog post about seven years ago that talks about imagining life as a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are work, family, health, friends, and integrity. You are keeping all of them in the air at the same time. One day you come to understand that work is a rubber ball – if you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls are made of glass, and if you drop any one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed or even shattered. Once you understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginning of balance in your life. What a wonderful and positive message to share with your staff. That is true leadership.
This is the fourth in a series of five posts about how to create growth and profitability in successful dental practices in 2018. Final post – the need for increasing second visit treatment plan consultation appointments.
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